The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness

The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness

by

Simon Wiesenthal

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Sunflower can help.

The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness: Arthur Waskow Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Waskow theorizes that Karl has shattered the “Four Worlds”: Doing, Relating, Knowing, and Being. To forgive, Karl and the person forgiving would need to work together to connect the shattered worlds.
Waskow refers to Kabbalah, a school of Jewish mystic thought, in order to make his argument. He refers to the “Four Worlds,” which are spiritual realms that make up the creative life force of God. Because Karl has shattered these worlds irreparably, he is beyond forgiveness
Themes
Religion and Moral Truth Theme Icon
Waskow states that he could not do this, because there is no way to repair the physical damage done to the Jews that Karl murdered. Only in one of the worlds can they work together: the world of knowing. From Karl, Waskow learns that sadism can be mass-produced, as well as the necessity of creating a deeper and broader sense of community among different peoples. He cannot accomplish this with Karl, however.
 Waskow, like Tzvetan Todorov, sees the importance of learning even from cruelty and creating a more humane global community.
Themes
Forgiveness and Compassion Theme Icon
Religion and Moral Truth Theme Icon
Anti-Semitism and Dehumanization Theme Icon